WASHINGTON — A beloved D.C. tradition enters its 78th year this weekend, one that attracts both locals and out-of-towners with springtime sights, sounds and smells.
The annual National Cathedral Flower Mart kicks off at 10 a.m. Friday in and around the church, 3101 Wisconsin Ave. NW. An opening ceremony will feature D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, who is this year’s honorary chair.
Flowers, flowers and more flowers, of course, will be available in booths during the event Friday and Saturday (which will be held rain or shine). But as any attendee from years past can tell you, flowers are not the only attraction: The event also features artisanal gifts, food and children’s rides.
That includes an authentic, restored 1890s carousel. This year, it returns to its former location in the children’s area, located east of the cathedral, said Beth Cowie of the All Hallows Guild, which runs the event and serves as a steward for the cathedral’s garden and grounds.
“The carousel had to be moved to the north lawn after the 2011 earthquake,” Cowie said. “But now that the repairs have been made and the scaffolding has been removed from the east end, we can again have it placed there.”
More than 80 boutique gift booths will be open around the cathedral as well, including a larger “White Elephant” booth and a used book tent.
Indoor attractions are scheduled as well, Cowie said, including a Flowers Around the World international floral display that features displays from 19 embassies and cultural partners.
And Saturday attendees who need exercise are invited to climb the 333 steps to the top of the cathedral’s great central tower — a rare opportunity, as the tower is only open to the public once or twice a year.
Successful climbers can then hear a demonstration of the bells and learn more about the cathedral’s architecture … while they catch their breath.
The 78th Annual Flower Mart runs 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, rain or shine.
Many of the events are free, but small fees will be charged for rides, games, puppet shows and the tower climb. For a map of attractions or schedule of performances and tours, visit the guild website.